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At ECS, we understand what happens when people come together for a shared goal: communities grow stronger and lives are changed. As individuals, ECS employees are givers. As many in our country have experienced hardships throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our employees have been steadfast in supporting the causes that they are passionate about. Our ongoing philanthropy initiatives, ECS Cares and ECS Engage, give employees a chance to come together in support of one vision: helping others. In 2020, ECSers supported a number of initiatives to help those in need.

This holiday season, we are shining a light on our 2020 ECS Engage grant recipients. ECS Engage allows full-time employees to apply for grants to support some of their favorite charities—places where they’ve donated their own time and resources over the years.

Bike MS

In the United States, it’s estimated that one million people over the age of 18 live with multiple sclerosis (MS), but Bike MS is racing for a cure. Every year, nearly 75,000 supporters participate in cycling fundraisers organized by the foundation, raising donations for each mile they peddle in a race.

By now, Jason Heuer, a senior project manager as ECS, is a familiar face on the circuit. He’s ridden for the foundation eight times. This year, with sponsorship from the ECS Engage grant, Jason undertook another 100-mile charity ride. While this year’s races were canceled due to the pandemic, Jason still raised the funds and completed the long-distance ride alone, leaning on his family and friends to support him along the way. This mission is intensely personal for Jason—his wife and brother both live with the disease.

I’ll keep cycling until my legs tell me I can’t anymore. I’ve done these rides to support my wife and brother, and I can’t express the gratitude I felt to have ECS’ generous support this year.

JASON HEUER

Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center

Since 1969, the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center has provided emergency services to residents of Howard County, Maryland. For Chitra Raghu, senior director of federal health and safety at ECS and a Grassroots board member, the center is an institution deeply rooted in the fabric of her community. In addition to their 24-hour crisis counseling service, the center operates a 33-bed emergency family shelter, an 18-bed men’s shelter, and can house up to five families short-term in a motel shelter.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has increased the need for emergency services, while limiting the shelters’ capacity and hampering fundraising efforts. This year, with the ECS Engage grant, Chitra raised much needed funds to help staff continue their crisis, counseling, and shelter services when they have been needed most.

Calls to the crisis hotline have increased 40 to 50 percent during the pandemic. More than ever, we must step up as citizens and neighbors to help our communities get through this difficult time.

CHITRA RAGHU

Boulder Crest Foundation

Despite increased public attention and funding, suicide continues to be an epidemic among veteran populations. According the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the COVID-19 pandemic will only exacerbate many of the mental health issues veterans face. The Boulder Crest Foundation provides training, counseling, and mental health services to veterans, first responders, and their families dealing with post-traumatic stress and other related issues.

Bob Shields, ECS vice president of national security and intelligence, has been involved with Boulder Crest since its creation. For the last two years, he and other ECS employees have helped prepare Boulder Crest’s 37-acre facility for its summer slate of trainings, programs, and retreats. While COVID-19 prevented this year’s visit, Bob was able to provide socially distant support through the ECS Engage grant.

With help from the ECS Engage grant, Boulder Crest Foundation continues to help veterans transform their struggle into a source of continued strength.

BOB SHIELDS

Looking forward: Giving in 2021

Ready to be a giver in 2021? Stay tuned for news on upcoming ECS Engage campaigns. Together, we’ll build an even stronger band of volunteers and donors in order to show up for our local communities during the pandemic and beyond.

Check out Our Culture page to see how ECS and our employees continue to give back every day.

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